Sunday, July 28, 2013

Journey to Africa, Overview

I've retyped, reworded the first sentence of this post at least five times and yet, as you can see, nothing has satisfied me. That is why it has taken nearly 2 weeks 4 weeks okay 5 weeks for me to even attempt to put my experience down on "paper."

I'm going to bite off a little at a time and start with a simple overview of the trip. A day by day synopsis and I'll expand with the educational and emotional goodies in the days to come.

Before going further I have to say: I heart Heart for Africa. Big Time.

I think having a heart for the organization, what its doing, and the country its doing it in helps when attempting to endure the journey there and back. Folks, its a lot of traveling. We left Saturday afternoon and didn't arrive to Swaziland until Monday afternoon. That's two days of traveling before you even get to your final destination and then you have to settle in...

That brings us to Day 1:
After arriving in South Africa on Sunday we stayed that night in a hotel connected to the airport. The following morning we all piled on to a bus and rode for 5 hours to our final destination. About half way through we had to enjoy a little walk through passport control in order to leave South Africa and cross the border into Swaziland. Once we finally arrived at our hotel, we got settled in and had our orientation and a darn good meal...oh that food, YUM.

Day 2:
On Tuesday morning we set out for Project Canaan (PC), a 2500 acre farm owned by Heart for Africa. Swaziland is actually a kingdom, meaning its run by a King, who owns nearly all the land. The fact that Heart for Africa was able to buy land was amazing, but that much land...definitely a God thing. PC has a variety of animals, crops, greenhouses, training centers, children homes, and so many other wonderful things that I hope to dive into later.

The day we visited PC we were given a detailed tour of the land along with a vision for what is to come - good stuff, people! After the tour, we ate lunch around the baby, toddler, and preschool homes. Then we set out in small groups to complete some work around the farm. My group ended up here:

Picking up and bagging corn
Rob & Chris hard at work

My group gathered corn in large bags, emptied said bags into a fancy shmancy machine that decobbed the corn, and we tied up the bags of corn kernels to be used around the community. Typing it up makes it seem simple, but trust me, it was no joke. Our muscles had a lot to say about it the next day.

Our final task that day was to sort out boxes of TOMS to be sent out to homesteads the following day. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at the quality of these TOMS. They were much higher quality than the pair that you receive when you order from their site. More to come on that later...

Day 3:
On Wednesday we had the privilege of visiting two homesteads. Each homestead belonged to one of the workers from PC.

Day 4:
Thursday was the once in a lifetime experience of exploring the natural habitat of African wildlife.

Day 5-7
Friday was the first of three days that changed things for me. It was the first of three days that my group visited Ebholi Methodist Primary School. During the first day there we helped them plant a garden and just hung out with all of those beautiful children. Our second day at the school we passed out TOMS and played with the kids some more. Our last day was bittersweet, filled with tears. We held a worship service in one of the classrooms, helped a teeny bit with food prep and distribution, and simply enjoyed our final hours with the people that touched our hearts.

More info and pictures coming soon, but for now you can check out a handful of the pics here:

Day 2-3 Pictures

We're pretty slow at getting thank yous out, but this little thing is on its way. We can't express how grateful we are for all of the donations and prayers that helped us make this life-changing journey. :)

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.